Tristan and Iseult: Brangien delivered to the serfs

Here is the translation of the Roman de Tristan et Iseult of 1900 by Joseph Bedier. Here is the fifth part: Brangien delivered to the serfs.

Brangien delivered to the serfs

Brangien delivered to the serfs

King Mark welcomed Iseut la Blonde to the shore. Tristan took her by the hand and led her before the king; the king seized her, taking her in turn by the hand. With great honor he led her towards the castle of Tintagel, and, when she appeared in the hall among the vassals, her beauty cast such light that the walls lit up, as if struck by the rising sun.

Then King Mark praised the swallows who, out of fine courtesy, had brought him the golden hair; he praised Tristan and the hundred knights who, on the adventurous nave, had gone to fetch him the joy of his eyes and his heart. Alas! the nave you bring to you also, noble king, bitter mourning and great torment.

Eighteen days later, having summoned all his barons, he took Iseut the Blonde to wife. But, when night came, Brangien, in order to hide the dishonor of the queen and to save her from death, took Iseut's place in the nuptial bed. As a punishment for the male guard she had made on the sea and for the love of her friend, she sacrificed her faithfulness to her, the purity of her body; the darkness of the night hid his cunning and his shame from the king.

The storytellers claim here that Brangien had not thrown into the sea the bottle of grassy wine, not entirely emptied by the lovers; but that in the morning, after his lady had in her turn entered King Mark's bed, Brangien poured out the remaining potion into a cup and presented it to the spouses; that Mark drank there widely and that Iseut threw his share away.

But know, lords, that these storytellers have corrupted history and distorted it. If they have imagined this lie, it is for lack of understanding the marvelous love that Marc always had for the queen. Certainly, as you will soon hear, never, despite the anguish, the torment and the terrible reprisals, Marc could not drive out of his heart Iseut nor Tristan: but know, lords, that he had not drunk the herbaceous wine. . No poison, no spell; only the tender nobility of her heart inspired her to love.

Iseut is queen and seems to live in joy. Iseut is queen and lives in sadness. Iseut has the tenderness of King Mark, the barons honor him, and those of the smallest people cherish her. Iseut spends the day in his rooms richly painted and strewn with flowers.

Iseut has the noble jewels, the purple sheets and the rugs from Thessaly, the songs of the harpers, and the curtains where leopards, alerions, papegauts and all the beasts of the sea and the woods are crafted. Iseut has its vivid, its beautiful loves, and Tristan with her, at leisure, and day and night; for, as is the custom with the high lords, he sleeps in the royal chamber, among the private and the faithful.

Iseut trembles, however. Why tremble? Doesn't she keep her loves secret? Who would suspect Tristan? Who would suspect a son? Who sees her? Who is spying on him? Which witness? Yes, a witness is watching him, Brangien; Brangien is watching her; Brangien alone knows his life, Brangien holds it in his mercy! God ! if, tired of preparing the bed where she was the first to sleep every day like a servant, she denounced them to the king! if Tristan died by his felony!… So fear maddens the queen. No, it is not from Brangien the faithful, it is from his own heart that his torment comes.

Listen, lords, to the great treachery that she meditated on; but God, as you will hear, took pity on her; you too, be compassionate to him!

That day, Tristan and the king were hunting in the distance, and Tristan did not know of this crime. Iseut sent for two serfs, promised them frankness and sixty gold besants, if they swore to do his will. They took the oath.

“I will give you then,” she said, “a young girl; you will take her into the forest, far or near, but in such a place that no one will ever discover the adventure: there, you will kill her and bring me her tongue. Remember, to repeat them to me, the words she said. Go on ; when you return, you will be freed and rich men. "

Then she called Brangien:

“Friend, you see how my body languishes and suffers; will you not go and seek in the forest the plants which are suitable for this evil? Two serfs are there, who will lead you; they know where the effective herbs grow. Follow them then; sister, know it well, if I send you to the forest, it is because of my rest and my life! "

The serfs took him away. Coming to the woods, she wanted to stop, for the beneficial plants were growing around her in sufficiency. But they led him further:

“Come, young lady, this is not the place to be. "

One of the serfs walked in front of her, her companion followed her. No more cleared path, but tangled brambles and thorns and thistles. Then the man who walked first drew his sword and turned around; she threw herself back at the other serf to ask for his help; he also held the naked sword in his fist and said:

“Young girl, we have to kill you. "

Brangien fell to the grass and his arms tried to spread the tips of the swords. She asked thank you in a voice so pitiful and so tender, that they said:

"Young girl, if Queen Iseut, your lady and ours, wants you to die, you have undoubtedly done her some great harm. "

She replied:

“I don't know, friends; I only remember one mischief. When we left Ireland, we each took, like the most expensive of adornments, a snow-white shirt, a shirt for our wedding night. On the sea, it happened that Iseut tore his wedding gown, and for his wedding night I lent him mine. Friends, that is all the wrong I have done him.

But since she wants me to die, tell her that I send her greetings and love, and that I thank her for all that she has done me good and honor, since as a child, delighted by pirates, I was sold to her mother and dedicated to serving her. May God, in his goodness, keep his honor, his body, his life! Brothers, knock now! "

The serfs took pity! They took counsel, and, judging that perhaps such a misdeed was not worth death, they tied it to a tree.

Then, they killed a young dog: one of them cut off his tongue, squeezed it in a part of his girdle, and they both reappeared before Iseut.

"Has she spoken? she asked anxiously.

- Yes, queen, she spoke. She said that you were irritated by one fault: you tore a snow-white shirt over the sea that you brought from Ireland, she lent you hers on your wedding night. This was, she said, her only crime. She gave you thanks for so many blessings received from you from childhood, she prayed to God to protect your honor and your life. She sends you greetings and love. Queen, here is her language we bring to you.

- Murderers! cried Iseut, give me back Brangien, my dear servant! Didn't you know she was my only friend? Murderers, give it back to me!

- Reine, it is rightly said: "Woman changes in a few hours; at the same time, woman laughs, cries, loves, hates. We killed it, since you ordered it!

- How would I have ordered it? For what mischief? was it not my dear companion, the gentle, the faithful, the beautiful? You knew it, murderers: I had sent her to look for some beneficial herbs and I entrusted it, so that you protect it on the road. But I will say that you killed her and you will be burned in coals.

- Queen, know then that she lives and that we will bring her back to you safe and sound. "

But she did not believe them, and as if lost, in turn cursed the murderers and cursed herself. She held one of the serfs to her, while the other hurried to the tree where Brangien was tied.

"Beautiful, God thanked you, and now your lady calls you back!" "

When she appeared before Iseut, Brangien knelt down, asking him to forgive him for his wrongs; but the queen had also fallen on her knees before her, and both, embraced, swooned for a long time.